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Posts tagged ‘Red Army’

Crimeans Overwhelmingly Vote for Secession.


SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — The head of the referendum committee in Ukraine’s Crimea region says more than 95 percent of voters have approved splitting off and joining Russia.

Mikhail Malishev said the initial result came after more than 50 percent of the ballots had been counted.

Speaking two hours after polls closed, Malishev said turnout was 83 percent — a high figure given that many who opposed the move had said they would boycott the vote.

Western powers and leaders in Kiev denounced it as a sham.

Underlining how Moscow’s military takeover of the peninsula two weeks ago has driven Russia and the West into a crisis with echoes of the Cold War, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama spoke by telephone and, according to the Kremlin, the Russian and U.S. presidents agreed on a need to cooperate to stabilise Ukraine.

“This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution,” a White House spokesman said. “The international community will not recognise the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.”

The Kremlin said Putin told Obama the referendum was legitimate and he expressed concern about the Ukrainian government’s failure to stamp out violence against Russian speakers in the country.

“Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin drew attention to the inability and unwillingness of the present authorities in Kiev to curb rampant violence by ultra-nationalist and radical groups that destabilise the situation and terrorise civilians, including the Russian-speaking population,” the Kremlin said.

It said Putin suggested European monitors should be sent to all parts of Ukraine because of the violence.

Kiev said Moscow’s build-up of forces in the Black Sea peninsula was in “crude violation” of an international treaty, and announced plans to arm and train 20,000 members of a newly-created National Guard.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Moscow that Washington would not accept the outcome of the vote in the region, which has an ethnic Russian majority and was transferred to Ukraine by Soviet rulers only 60 years ago.

The White House also warned Moscow to expect sanctions while foreign ministers from the European Union, which has major trade ties with Russia, will decide on possible similar action in Brussels on Monday.

But Putin rejected Western accusations that the referendum was illegal, saying it respected the will of the Crimean people, while his foreign ministry said it had agreed with the United States to seek a solution to the crisis through constitutional reform.

 

In Kiev, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk threatened dire consequences for the Crimean politicians who had called the vote, saying separatist “ringleaders” wanted to destroy Ukrainian independence “under the cover of Russian troops”.

“We will find all of them – if it takes one year, two years – and bring them to justice and try them in Ukrainian and international courts. The ground will burn under their feet,” he told a cabinet meeting.

Yatseniuk had just returned from a U.S. trip where he won expressions of moral support but no offers of weapons. Kiev’s pro-European rulers, who took power after last month’s fall of Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovich to popular unrest, have been as powerless as Western governments to prevent the referendum or buildup of Russian forces on Ukrainian territory.

At a polling booth at a school in Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital, dozens of people lined up outside to cast their ballots early.

“I have voted for Russia,” said Svetlana Vasilyeva, 27, a veterinary nurse. “This is what we have been waiting for. We are one family and we want to live with our brothers.”

Vasilyeva voiced fears common among some of Ukraine’s native Russian-speakers about the consequences of Yanukovich’s exit after protests in which over 100 people were killed. “We want to leave Ukraine because Ukrainians told us that we are people of a lower kind. How can you stay in such a country?” she said.

But ethnic Tatars – Sunni Muslims who make up 12 percent of Crimea’s population – said they would boycott the vote despite promises by the regional authorities to give them financial aid and proper land rights.

“This is my land. This is the land of my ancestors. Who asked me if I want it or not? Who asked me?” said Shevkaye Assanova, a Crimean Tatar in her 40s. “For the rest of my life I will be cursing those who brought these people here. I don’t recognise this at all. I curse all of them.”

 

Crimea’s 1.5 million voters had two options: union with Russia or giving their region, which is controlled by pro-Kremlin politicians, the broad right to determine its own path and choose relations with whom it wants – including Moscow.

A local Tatar television channel broadcast the count at one small polling station. It took just a few minutes for officials to stack up the papers, virtually in a single pile. One gave the result as: “166 for, 2 against, 1 spoiled”. By “for” she clearly meant the first option on the paper, for union with Russia.

Russia has the right to keep forces on the Black Sea peninsula, including at its naval base in the port of Sevastopol, under a treaty signed after Ukraine gained independence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1991.

But Ukrainian acting defence minister Ihor Tenyukh accused Moscow of going far beyond an agreed limit on servicemen – which he said was 12,500 for 2014.

“Unfortunately, in a very short period of time, this 12,500 has grown to 22,000. This is a crude violation of the bilateral agreements and is proof that Russia has unlawfully brought its troops onto the territory of Crimea,” he said.

This figure had risen from 18,400 on Friday. “Let me say once again that this is our land and we will not be leaving it,” he told Interfax news agency.

Tenyukh later said that the defence ministries in Kiev and Moscow had declared a truce until March 21 during which Russian forces, who have been arriving by boat and helicopter, would leave Ukrainian military facilities untouched.

Many Crimeans hope union with Russia will bring better pay and make them citizens of a country capable of asserting itself on the world stage. But others saw the referendum as a land grab by the Kremlin from Ukraine, whose new rulers want to move the country towards the European Union and away from Russia’s sway.

Putin defended the vote in a phone call on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying it complied with international law, including Article 1 of the U.N. Charter which states the principle of self-determination of peoples. “It was emphasized that Russia will respect the choice of the Crimean people,” a Kremlin statement said.

Putin has said he must protect the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine from “fascists” in Kiev who ousted Yanukovich. Western powers largely dismiss his characterisation of the new authorities as successors of Nazi-allied Ukrainian forces which fought the Red Army in World War Two.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged Kerry on Sunday to encourage authorities in Kiev to stop what he called “massive lawlessness” against the Russian-speaking population.

In their second phone conversation in two days, Lavrov and Kerry agreed to seek a solution to the crisis by pushing for constitutional reforms in Ukraine, Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

However, Kerry told Lavrov that the United States would not accept the referendum result and said Russia must pull back its forces to their bases, a senior State Department official said.

The White House also warned Putin that he faces international isolation that will hurt Russia’s economy. “You can expect sanctions designations in the coming days,” White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer told NBC’s Meet the Press.

The administration is preparing to identify Russians whom the United States will seek to punish with visa bans and asset freezes that President Obama authorised last week.

At the United Nations, 13 Security Council members voted for a draft resolution on Saturday saying the Crimea result should not be recognised internationally, but Moscow exercised its veto while China abstained.

Tensions over Crimea appear also to be spreading in cyberspace. Unidentified hackers brought down several public NATO websites with attacks on Saturday, the alliance said.

Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said on Twitter that the attacks, which began on Saturday evening, continued on Sunday, although most services had now been restored.

“It doesn’t impede our ability to command and control our forces. At no time was there any risk to our classified networks,” another NATO official said.

A group calling itself “cyber berkut” – named after riot police formally disbanded by the central powers in Kiev – said the attack had been carried out by patriotic Ukrainians angry over what they saw as NATO interference in their country.

Apart from Crimea, tension is also running high in parts of the Russian-speaking industrialised east of Ukraine near the border with Russia, with clashes between rival demonstrators that Moscow has seized on to support its case that ethnic Russians are being victimised.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

Russian Designer of AK-47 Assault Rifle Dies at 94.


Image: Russian Designer of AK-47 Assault Rifle Dies at 94

The inventor of the world’s most famous firearm – the AK-47 assault rifle — has died of undisclosed causes in his hometown of Izhevsk, near the Ural Mountains, a spokesman for the Udmurtia republic says. He was 94.

The “self-taught tinkerer” created the Avtomat Kalashnikov in 1947, nine years after joining the Red Army. He was driven to conceptualize the weapon while recovering from wounds suffered when a shell hit his tank. He was determined to create something equal to or better than the Nazis’ superior cache.

“Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer,” Kalashnikov once said. “I always wanted to construct agricultural machinery.”

Though not known for its accuracy, the AK-47 is rugged and simple and performs in inclement conditions that jam more sophisticated machinery, the AP reports.

“During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers,” Kalashnikov said in July 2007 at a ceremony marking the rifle’s 60th anniversary.

With more than 100 million AK-47s in circulation around the world, the gun has earned the distinction of being the firearm most “favored by guerrillas, terrorists and the soldiers of many armies.” It remains a staple of Russia’s armed forces and police and is at the heart of the gun control debate in the United States.

Though his name is synonymous with his invention, Kalashnikov never made a cent off the rifle, which was never patented.

The weapon, he said, was designed to protect his motherland, not to be used by terrorists or thugs, according to The New York Times. “This is a weapon of defense. It is not a weapon for offense.”

The Kalashnikov Museum opened in 2004 in Izhevsk, Russia.

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Information from Reuters was used in this report.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Russia marks 70th anniversary of Stalingrad battle.


  • FILE - In this early 1943 photo, captured German soldiers, their uniforms tattered from the battle, make their way in the bitter cold through the ruins of Stalingrad, Russia. On Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, Russia marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, considered a turning point in World War II. (AP Photo/hpr, File)

    View PhotoAssociated Press/hpr, File – FILE – In this early 1943 photo, captured German soldiers, their uniforms tattered from the battle, make their way in the bitter cold through the ruins of Stalingrad, Russia. On …more 

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VOLGOGRAD, Russia (AP) — An aged T-34 tank clattered into the center of the southern Russian city once known as Stalingrad and soldiers dressed in World War II-era uniforms marched solemnly as Russia marked the 70th anniversary of the end of one of modern warfare’s bloodiest battles.

President Vladimir Putin came to the city later Saturday to take part in the commemorations, including a visit to the famous hilltop memorial complex surmounted by a towering 87-meter (280-foot) statue of a sword-wielding woman representing the motherland.

“Stalingrad will forever remain a symbol of unity and invincibility of our people, a symbol of genuine patriotism, a symbol of the greatest victory of the Soviet liberator soldier. And as long as we are devoted to Russia, our language, culture, roots and national memory, Russia will be invincible,” Putin said at an evening commemorative concert.

The city 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Moscow suffered six months of intensive fighting, beginning with massive air strikes, as Nazi forces tried to push deep into the Soviet Union and reach its Caucasus oil fields.

At least 1.2 million people are estimated to have died before the fighting ended on Feb. 2, 1943. The Red Army‘s defeat of the Nazis after house-to-house battling was a decisive turn in World War II.

One of the houses became a particularly resonant symbol of the battle. The four-story apartment building became known as the Pavlov House after the sergeant whose platoon inflicted heavy damage on Nazi troops and tanks while under heavy attack for two months, even as civilians continued to occupy it.

A woman born in the house a couple of months before the siege, Zinaida Andreeva, told the Interfax news agency Saturday that “for me, Feb. 2 is like a birthday. It’s a special day, in which tears and happiness are side by side.”

The city was renamed Volgograd in 1961, as part of the Khrushchev era’s drive to erase the personality cult of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. But the name Stalingrad is indelibly connected with the battle that is one of Russia’s most-lauded military achievements.

The connection is so strong that the city council this week passed a resolution under which it would use the name Stalingrad in official communiques on the day commemorating the battle’s end, as well as five other days marking World War II events.

The legacy of Stalin remains a delicate issue nearly 60 years after his death. Although widely reviled for his decades of brutality and repression, many laud him as leading the people to victory against Nazi Germany amid immense suffering.

In a controversial move, Stalin’s image adorns five buses that are to run in Volograd until Russia observes Victory Day on May 9, and similar buses were to run Saturday in St. Petersburg and Chita.

The leader of the liberal Yabloko party’s faction in the St. Petersburg city council, Georgy Poltavchenko, denounced the Stalin buses.

“The victory in the Great Patriotic War” as Russians call WWII ” including the victory in the battle on the Volga, was not achieved thanks to the ‘military genius’ of Stalin … but thanks to the heroic resistance of our people,” he was quoted by Interfax as saying.

____

Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.

Source. YAHOO NEWS.

By ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO | Associated Press

A WWI-era tank returns to Poland from Afghanistan.


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A tank used by Poland in its 1920 war against the Red Army was returned from Afghanistan where it was serving as a decoration at the defense ministry.

Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said Friday the French-made FT-17 tank has “historic and sentimental value” for Poland.

According to historians it probably was captured by the Bolsheviks during the war, and later sent toKabul as a gift.

It was spotted at the Defense Ministry in Kabul by an Afghan employee of Poland’s embassy, according to Piotr Lukasiewicz, the Polish ambassador to Kabul.

After maintenance it will be displayed at the Polish Armed Forces Museum, Siemoniak said.

Europe has only three such tanks, the museum says. It is the first tank on tracks with front cabin and rear engine.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

Associated Press

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